Chelsea will be looking to stretch their advantage at the top of the Premier League table to four points when they travel to fourth-placed West Ham United on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues will enter the contest off the back of a 2-1 victory at Watford on Wednesday, while West Ham were held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton & Hove Albion on the same night.
West Ham have won seven, drawn three and lost four of their 14 Premier League matches this season to collect 24 points, which has left them in fourth position in the table and very much in the mix for a top-four finish.
There is a chance that the Hammers could have dropped to fifth by the time that this match kicks off, with fifth-placed Arsenal away to Manchester United on Thursday night, but a win would see David Moyes’s side end the next set of fixtures in the top four regardless of what happens elsewhere.
West Ham suffered a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City last weekend but were on the verge of securing a huge three points at home to Brighton on Wednesday, only for Neal Maupay to come up with an 89th-minute leveller for the Seagulls, meaning that Moyes’s team are now without a victory in their last three league encounters.
A victory over Chelsea would lead the Hammers nicely into back-to-back away games against Burnley and Arsenal, but a defeat would certainly leave them vulnerable, with plenty of teams looking to capitalise behind them.
West Ham lost both league matches against Chelsea last season, including a 1-0 defeat at the London Stadium, but they did record a 3-2 victory over the Blues on home soil last July.
Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Manchester United in the league last weekend but managed to return to winning ways on Wednesday, recording a 2-1 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.
Hakim Ziyech’s effort in the 72nd minute proved to be the difference between the two sides and ensured that the Blues would remain top of the table entering Saturday’s London derby.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are seemingly involved in a three-way title race with second-placed Manchester City and third-placed Liverpool, and the European Cup holders could easily find themselves down in third position if they fail to overcome the Hammers.
Chelsea have a relatively kind festive fixture list, facing Leeds United, Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa and Brighton before the end of the month, but January’s first two league matches are against Liverpool and Man City
Tuchel claimed that his side were “lucky” to triumph at Watford on Wednesday, and the German will undoubtedly be looking for an improvement in this weekend’s contest with Moyes’s side.